What is On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 3?
Several years ago, Penny Arcade joined up with Hothead Games to create an episodic series of video games based on a new setting that used many of the Penny Arcade characters. For a few reasons, however, PA and Hothead decided to break it off and leave the series unfinished. Jerry Holkins (aka @Tycho
) did his best to fill in the game, and wrote Episode 3
as a story to give fans some kind of closure. That would be the end of Rain-Slick, until a new developer was found, and the game given life once more.
Who is the new developer?
, a literal two-man team whose members have history here in these very forums. Their previous works include Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World. @RainbowDespair
will dip in here from time-to-time to answer any questions. Be polite
when asking questions.
When is it coming out? What can I play it on? What is the price?
The game is out now on PC via Steam
The game's price is $4.99 or 400 MS Points.
Is this a sequel or what?
The game takes place shortly after Episode 2.
Do I need to have played Episodes 1&2?
It can't hurt! Zeboyd, however, says that new players will not be lost.
What about my character in 1&2?
Player avatars are no longer a thing in Episode 3, but Zeboyd says that this will be addressed in the narrative.
Why is the art so different?
There are reasons for this. The easiest is that Zeboyd works in a retro style, and so Episode 3 will follow suit. The other reason is that Mike Krahulik (aka @Gabriel
) didn't enjoy doing the art for video games as much as he expected. He wrote a post
explaining all this, and it is definitely worth a read.
Who is doing the writing?
Tycho enjoyed doing the writing, and that has not changed. His prose features heavily in the game.
Should I read Tycho's Episode 3 story?
The plot of the game takes from Tycho's earlier work, but they said at PAX East that the game is not going follow it 100%. Reading it is not a requirement to enjoy the game.
How has the gameplay changed?
The game is still an RPG, but now follows in the vein of 16-bit JRPGs with turn-based command menus and all that good stuff. Zeboyd has done a commendable job of taking a lot of the pain from random encounters in a variety of ways. Players heal up to full at the end of each combat, and mana starts at 0 and slowly fills with each turn. At the same time, monsters slowly became more powerful with each turn, adding tension to random battles. The result is an emphasis on the battles themselves instead of an endurance run against many weak enemies.
How long is it?
Video game length can be tricky to determine, but rough estimates are 8-10 hours. There are also multiple difficulties to tackle.
Is this the end of the Penny Arcade Adventures?
Nope! Apparently Zeboyd is already on deck to create Episode 4. The details aren't in stone, but that is looking at a 2013 release.
Will Tycho be doing another written story for Episode 4?
Since the intent of the written Episode 3 story was to give fans closure, it is highly unlikely that another standalone story will be released for Episode 4.
Episode 1 & 2 FAQ
User @JC of DI
did a big FAQ for the older games, and I'll keep that here for archival reasons.
The Short, "Summary" Version:
1. You will be able to create your own character, who you will play as.
2. There will be a large amount of character creation options
3. There will be a 2D representation in cut-scenes, of your character
1. It will be an RPG action game
2. Gabe and Tycho will be your constant party members, similar to Goofy and Donald in Kingdom Hearts
3. There will be no random battles
4. The game will be episodic, "Rain Slicked Precipice of Darkness" is all episodes
5. There will be a lot of dialog, similar to a comic book, represented textually
6. No voice acting
7. Your actions will NOT influence the overall story, (like KOTOR)
8. Other characters will join your party at some points in the game
9. Each game sums up a story, but there is an over all arch
10. M rated
11. Original Score
1. Gabe is hoping Twisp and Catspy are in the game
2. No staff from PA
3. There will be new characters introduced
What Can't be Said/No Comment:
1. The length of gameplay
2. Methods of Distribution
3. Methods of Control
5. Any characters other than Gabe and Tycho
6. Number of episodes
1. This takes place in a brand new continuity
2. The villain HAS been seen before in PA
3. The story is set in New Arcadia
4. Tycho is writing all of it
1. Price will be less than $20
2. Announced platforms are PC/Mac/Linux but other platforms have not been ruled out
The Fully Detailed Version:
Section 1: Gabe Q&A
[1.1] What game is RSPD closest to in terms of gameplay?
[1.2] Do Gabe and Tycho act as constant party members?
[1.3] Regarding New Arcadia's environmental style and mood.
[1.4] Create-A-Character customization level.
[1.5] Price and Dustribution.
[1.6] Game engine and Platform Availability.
[1.7] How the story will be handled. (No details on story.)
[1.8] Staff members in game? Multiplayer?
[1.9] Regarding villains.
[1.10] Regarding linear nature of game and interaction between characters.
[1.11] Pressure of making a game.
[1.12] Episodic content title answer and other PA ideas.
[1.13] Dialog and You
[1.14] New characters for this series?
[1.15] ESRB Rating.
[1.16] 3D Created characters and 2D counterparts? (Hint: Yes.)
[1.17] Creative Process for episodic content; Graphic novel accompaniment
[1.18] Old characters and their New Arcadia style
[1.19] No game is safe from parody
[1.20] Gabe's amount of creative input during development
[1.21] Tycho's amount of creative input during development
[1.22] Mysterious RPG-Preference Survey and it's intended purpose
[1.23] Who brought up the idea?
[1.24] Have you gained a new perspective on game development?
What game is RSPD closest to in terms of gameplay?
That is a difficult one to start with. It really is a sort of hybrid. We thought about calling in an adventure RPG but when I think about those games I think about games like Zelda and thatâ€™s not quite right. Our game is much more of a classic RPG as far as combat is concerned. So we are calling it an RPG/adventure.
Do Gabe and Tycho act as your constant party members or will they only be featured here and there?
They are your constant party members. Think about Kingdom Hearts. Goofy Donald and Sora represent the core party. Your character along with Gabe and Tycho are the core party.
I would like to ask about the world of New Arcadia.
Is this going to be a city like New York or L.A. (or Boston, Seattle, Chigago, etc...) focusing on a gritty urban environment? I saw some short buildings in the trailer, making it seem more like suburbia. What kind of mood can we expect from the setting? Chaotic? Dreary/suspenseful? Ominous? What are you shooting for?
All those moods and a couple more What you saw in the trailer is a very small slice of the world.
I too am interested in the custom character options. Will we have much in the way of clothes options? Unlockable hats and such things perhaps?
We're working very hard to make the create a player options very deep. This is a character that you will take from episode to episode and we want him/her to be cool.
Any idea on price and distribution? Will this only be available online at first or will we see boxed copies at EB?
Under twenty bucks. We're still working out all the different ways we'll be delivering the game.
As I understand it, the game is planned for cross-platform release. What engine is Hothead using? Have they built something in-house or are they using a commodity engine?
The game is being built using the Torque engine from Garage Games. So far we have announced PC, MAC and Linux.
Can we get any sort of story summary? Obviously it's sorta lovecraftian, but are we gonna see actual eldrich horrors, or is there just a fruit fucker uprising of sorts?
I can't say too much. It is important to remember this is an episodic story. Each one will represent a complete story from beging to end but they also fit into a much larger arc.
[...]will we see other members of the PA staff? I've only caught glimpses of them from the ping-pong tourney and I have no idea who they are or what they do. Just wondering.
Oh right, one last thing, will there by any sort of online gameplay? Or maybe just trading high scores or characters?
the rest of the staff here at PA isn't really a part of this continuity.
this is a single player game.
I can't really think of any villains in the PA universe. Will there even be a main villain featured in this game?
(Please say it is Jack Thompson.)
yes there is a major villain and yes he has appeared in the comic and no it is not Jack.
Other than the FruitFucker?
[...]is the game driven by dialog? By which I mean, will the choices you make in interactions with characters in the game push the story forward, possibly branch it out? Or, is it a more linear exploratory sort of game?
It might be good to think about the story as a comic. We're telling a story and we're doing it with a lot of dialogue and you do get to interact with a lot of characters. This isn't KOTOR though, you will not be altering the outcome of the story based on your actions.
How much pressure are you guys putting on yourselves with this project?
Do you see this as a test of what you can do and try to keep your expectations low(in terms of sales and accessability of the finished product) or do you expect to create something truly awesome that will write video game history? ;)
That's a good question. I will say that the production of this game is really pushing Tycho and I to the limits of what we're able to produce. I've been creating a ton of artwork and Tycho is writing pages every day. I am not going to say that we're making something that will go down in history. We're trying to make the best thing we can and we hope you like it. That's all we've ever done with any project, including the comic itself.
1. Is this series of Penny Arcade Adventures games all called the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness or is that the title of the first episode?
2. Will future PAA games explore some of the other universes that you and Tycho have created such as Sand or the John Woo-inspiried action serial that were featured in the comic collections?
RSPD is a game that will contain multiple episodes.
You may see bits and pieces of other ideas we've had worked into RSPD but that's about all I can say.
First off my hat's off to you sir for taking the time and energy to answer these questions from your fanbase.
Second off, a minor question. Will the player character have dialog or will he/she(I assume female is an option) be a silent protagonist ala Link and Crono?
You will have dialog in the game.
Will there be any new characters introduced (ourselves aside)?
Yes, we've created lots of new characters for this world.
What sort of rating are you guys going for? M? T? Will there be nudity? I love video game nudity...
this shit will be M
So will the 3D created character have a 2D counterpart for cinematics, etc.?
yes that is the idea. We want your character to be represented in the cut scenes along side Gabe and Tycho. Good question
Mike David wrote:
1) Are you guys working on all the episodes at once, multiple episodes, or just the one?
2) Are you planning on some RSPD Graphic novels, like non-canon stories based in this world to be distributed in comic book stores?
We've plotted out the entire arc and now we're focused on building the first episode.
We will be creating some comics to set up this world but I am not sure if they will be published in book form or just released on line.
Well the characters and themes definitely look unique. Are we going to see continuity for this duo or can we expect subtle or drastic changes?
Well when you see PA characters they will look familliar. You can look and see Gabe and Tycho in the trailer and the concept art. They are a good example of how characters might be altered to fin this continuity.
Just wondering if there will be any "spoofing" of other famous video games.
Spoofing games is a big part of PA humor. It's safe to say it will be a part of the game as well.
You said that you're storyboarding all the cutscenes but Hothead has a flash studio to do all the animation and such.
Are you also providing character sheets for all the enemies that will be encountered, or are you allowing Hothead's studio to share the load on creature design and things like that (with your approval, of course.)
I guess the question is, are you sharing the base model work for the various characters, or are you completely insane?
I'm doing sketches and designs for just about every character you'll see. I've let the Hot Head guys handle some of the minor characters and they've done great work with creating variants based on ym designs. I'm sort of crazy though and I really feel like I need to have a hand in all of it. For some characters it might just be a doodle and for more important ones I do full color illustrations.
Celtic Paladin wrote:
Is Tycho doing all of the writing and story-telling in the game, or are you bringing in anyone else; such as a writer for Hot Head? Also, if Tycho is doing it all by his lonesome, is there perhaps a novel in the Think Tank?
(I just want to read a Tycho-written novel.)
He's writing it all. Like most of our projects we plot it out together and then he drills down and writes it.
Some time ago you had a survey on your site about your readers' game (especially RPG) preferences. When linking to it, Tycho (I think) said something along the lines of "When you see some of these questions, you may wonder what the purpose of this survey is. I can assure you that the purpose is quite mysterious." The survey quickly disappeared once you had enough responses.
Was this survey related to RSPD?
Haha yeah it was
Who approached who about this project? That is, did you guys seek out Hot Head or did they seek out you?
They actually came to us. But we've known a few of the guys there for a long time so it was not a big surprise.
What was it like seeing how games are made? As someone who makes a living commenting on games, have you learned some things that have opened your eyes about gaming. So far, have you gained a new prespective on the game creation process.
I imagine it is like seeing the inside of a hot dog factory.
It's so fucking hard I am surprised games ever get made.
This concludes the significant questions and Gabe's answers up to post #261 in the "3/19 Q&A with Gabe" thread.
Section 2: Hothead Q&A
Hothead team member names placed before their text.
[2.1] Gabe's quick summary of Hothead (Originally posted in Gabe Q&A)
[2.2] Size of Hothead team working on the game
[2.3] The Torque game engine and why
[2.4] Similarities and differences working with The Simpson's and The Hulk compared to PA
[2.5] Hothead team PA fans?
[2.6] Technical difficulties displaying customized characters in cutscenes?
[2.7] Scenario or Map Editor in store?
[2.8] Ron Gilbert's role in the development of the game.
Rorus Raz wrote:
Anything you can tell us about the developer? Hot Head, is it? I'm not familiar with them.
Hot head is made up of industry vets from various companies. The majority of them came from Radical. These are the cats that made Simpsons road rage and hit and run. They also did the Hulk game. They have tons of experience bringing 2D characters to life in a 3D game.
JC of DI wrote:
A simple question I'd been wondering was simply how large the team working on this game is.
[Joel]Hothead has 20 people and the majority of those are working on RSPD. This size may be deceptive though because we're also working with some partners who specialize in particular aspects of the game art. So the actual number of people working on the game varies from time to time.
Elbonian Man wrote:
I understand most of you have been in the industry for some time now. How fully featured is the Torque engine compared to others that you've used? Have you had to put in a lot functionality to meet the needs of this game?
[Joel]I think what appealed to us most about Torque was the excellent cross-platform support. This is the key factor allowing us to target Mac and Linux in addition to the Windows version. We also love GarageGames' philosophy of supporting indie game development, and allowing game creators to focus on the things that matter: gameplay and fun.
We have made some changes to the engine during development, but we have an agreement with GarageGames that we'll roll any such improvements back into their code base, for the benefit of all Torque users.
Rorus Raz wrote:
Hot Head apparently has worked with a lot of popular properties in the past. Gabe mentioned Simpsons and Hulk in the other thread. What's it like working with popular, well-known franchises such as these as compared to original creations? How does working with Penny Arcade compare to these past experiences?
[Joel]Biggest similarity: Our focus has to be on delivering an "authentic" experience to the fans. When we were working on Hit & Run we had a goal of making the player feel like they were in an episode of the show. We want to deliver that same sense to PA fans with RSPD.
Biggest difference: Having Gabe and Tycho so directly involved. This has been a really nice change for us. Instead of working for months and then sending materials away for approval, we're in contact with Gabe and Tycho on an almost daily basis. It's been a lot of fun so far.
How familiar were you guys with the strip before beginning this project?
[Vlad]There are a lot of huge fans here at Hothead. There is not a chance we would have this opportunity to work with PA otherwise. We tried getting a G&T easter egg into a prior game years ago to pay tribute but were not able to due to publisher legal departments. I was also on an industry panel at the first PAX.
Elbonian Man wrote:
Is there any chance of a scenario or map editor? I realise that's probably a bit much, but being able to make your own adventures with Gabe and Tycho would be really badass.
[Vlad] Well, I would hate to rule anything out but right now, we are 100% focused on the main game experience.
Munkus Beaver wrote:
How hard will it be to have customization with the main character while including him/her in cutscenes?
[Vlad]That was one of the first technical issues that we worked on . . . and resolved. So from a technology perspective, we are good to go but that is only part of the battle. The design and presentation have to be just right and that will take time.